It sounds like a freight train just ripped through your neighborhood, and there seems to be destruction everywhere. However, the weather officials say it wasn’t a tornado—despite how it looks outside. What was it?
As it turns out, there are many conditions that create high winds without developing a tornado or hurricane. However, that doesn’t mean that those high winds are necessarily less damaging. If you’re scratching your head when you hear about a “microburst” or a “derecho,” here are some things you should know about what makes a severe windstorm.
Many Different Names for Different Kinds of Damaging Windstorms
Although strong winds can potentially accompany any thunderstorm, there are special weather circumstances that can create winds that are more destructive than usual. The National Severe Storms Laboratory lists several types of potentially devastating windstorms, including:
- Downdrafts. A downdraft occurs when a column of air descends forcefully from the air during a storm. While the winds from a downdraft can be damaging on their own, this basic “falling” behavior can also create the conditions for more serious wind events.
- Downbursts. A downburst is a very strong downdraft that “bursts” as it reaches the ground, sending high winds across a larger area. Downbursts can be especially damaging to buildings and properties, and they are often comparable in destructive power to larger tornados.
- Microbursts. Microbursts happen when a downburst is concentrated over a smaller area. Although they usually only last a few minutes, they can be very destructive in that short time. Microbursts often go hand-in-hand with heavy rains, but there are times when there is no accompanying precipitation. These aptly named “dry” microbursts are much more common in the plains and intermountain regions of the western United States.
- Gust fronts. When cool air meets a warm storm, winds can shift and start to gust at high speeds. The strong winds may blow ahead of an approaching storm or rise up to form shelf or roll clouds. In some rare cases, the wind in gust fronts can begin to spin and create conditions—sometimes called a “gustnado”—that are very similar to a weak tornado.
- Straight-line winds. When there are any kind of strong winds during a thunderstorm that don’t rotate or show tornadic activity, they’re called “straight-line” winds. These gusts of wind can barrel through an area, pushing debris ahead of them, and pound against any structures they encounter.
- Derechos. When bands of fast-moving thunderstorms roll over an area, it could become a weather event known as a “derecho.” Derechos usually develop multiple microbursts and downbursts, sometimes in clusters. These powerful storm conditions span more than 240 miles, and the severe winds can affect huge swaths of cities and property.
However, although there are many different ways that high winds can develop and affect a region, the one thing that all these windstorms have in common is the extensive damage they do to buildings and other property. For the policyholders affected, the scientific terms used for these storms are much less important than the terms of their insurance policies when filing claims in the aftermath.
Getting Help When High Winds Damage Your Home, Car, Boat, Business, Farm, or Municipality
Policyholders of all kinds sometimes struggle to successfully get the payments they deserve from their insurance companies after an unusual windstorm. Damages from high winds can be complicated by accompanying storm losses, and making sure that everything is assessed, estimated, and filed appropriately can be straining. To add to the difficulty, insurance claims for wind damage can be delayed when large areas are affected by a storm, and claims that do resolve may be underpaid or result in an outright denial.
Our attorneys understand the struggles that policyholders face after a severe storm, and we are focused on making sure that they have the support, legal representation, and information about their rights they need to succeed. For more information about fighting a denied or underpaid wind-damage claim, contact the experienced attorneys with the Voss Law Firm today at 1-888-614-7730. We have extensive experience helping policyholders get the answers they need to maximize difficult insurance claims, and we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.